The family that this house belongs to or vice versa…has a respectable number of over-achievers in its ancestry.  Yale figures rather prominently a few generations back.*  To the outside world, those are the important people and they are important, even interesting if you enjoy the history of Connecticut and New York in the 1600’s-1900 centuries.  The house comes after the really ‘big’ names, though the over-achievers continue.

Yet, they aren’t actually the people who are important to the house or not the only people. Because, of course, the house, the family reflects everyone.  It still exists because some of the family have put themselves into it, entirely, sometimes with grave reservations.  In the history of the house Lucy Creevey, who does not show up in the newspapers, is far more significant than her husband, George, who was something of a pioneer in the field of anaesthesia and does get in the news.  Lucy did a great deal of work on the house, as well as writing a history of it, shaping future perceptions to a great degree. 

And then, of course, in every generation there is the critical influences of the ‘out-laws’.  A living house does not exist as a mausoleum for some historic ancestor generations past.  It’s culture and outlook change with each generation as new connections are made through these ‘out-laws’: the Catskills, Canada, Kentucky and the Ohio River, Germany, Cincinnati, and the New England coast**  The house’s weight shapes and warps these connections of course, an accumulated pile that is larger than the individual, but it cannot ignore or erase them.

When dealing with the history of a place, it may be the house-wife or the farmer who truly shapes it, and not the name blazing in lights.  What lesson is there in that? Perhaps nothing, perhaps everything.

*Websters, Ellsworths, Wolcotts, think lawyers, governors, dictionaries, so forth.

**Of course family members also marry out, creating another set of connections.  For the alert family members who puzzle over Canada: the marriage of Elizabeth Ellsworth to Frederick Shand Goucher, circa 1910.  The Canadian influence pops up in the oddest places.